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Dave Liebman Big Band: A Tribute to Wayne Shorter

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The reputation of composer Wayne Shorter is a growth stock likely to continue to soar for decades on end. But unlike Duke Ellington or even Charles Mingus, Shorter has written relatively little for large ensembles. Still, his supple melodies, harmonic sophistication and knack for evocative themes and titles make his work beguiling to big-band arrangers.

For this Shorter tribute, Mats Holm-quist, arranger for the 19-piece Dave Liebman Big Band, tumbles into seven small-ensemble compositions the maestro wrote during the mid-1960s. The set opens with a pair of remarkably different tunes from Speak No Evil, originally recorded in 1964. For the impeccably titled ballad “Infant Eyes,” Holmquist poaches the horns in a pastel swirl of wonder and innocence, a rich and poignant treatment. That’s followed by the sidewalk strut of the title track to Speak No Evil, with its seductive, easy-rolling melody that the band understandably returns to a trifle too often.

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